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HOMECOMING: GECKOS BLANK ISLANDERS

Panthers crush Bulldogs 60-0

By Jay Leon Guerrero

The GW Geckos celebrated their homecoming game with a 20-0 victory over the JFK Islanders in the ISA High School Football League Friday night. The GW special teams made big plays to help the Geckos catapult into a tie for second place with the Guam High Panthers, who got a 60-0 victory against the Okkodo Bulldogs.

Jake Cruz earned the Wendy’s Player of the Game honors with a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery on JFK’s six yard line to set up an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter. Cruz also had two receptions for 20 yards.

Wendy’s Player of the Game_ Jake Cruz had a 77 yard punt return and fumble recovery for the Geckos.

“It was key for our special teams to make big plays tonight,” said Cruz. “It was a big game for us, the special teams were important for our win.”

JFK and GW had identical 3-1 records coming into the contest, the victory was important for playoff positioning and possible home field advantage for the playoffs next month.

Both defenses made key stops in the first half. The Cruz special teams touchdown was the difference in the first half with both team offenses unable to score.

It was a windy night at GW, and the Islanders entered the red zone twice and were unable to score via field goals. Joshua Benavente nearly scored in the second quarter after a big 45-yard run to put the ball at the six yard line.

The Gecko defense stopped the Islander run with big tackles from Rayce Rios and Kassmirh Engichy. The wind factor erased good field position for JFK after a failed field goal attempt, and the Geckos had a 7-0 lead at halftime.

The Geckos scored in the third quarter with Isaiah Hayes bulldozing his way into the end zone from eight yards out. The touchdown was set up from three first down runs by Gecko running back Sage Castro. The score was 14-0 in the third quarter, with Ricardo Leon Guerrero II converting his second extra point.

GW looked to score their third touchdown, but an interception by Noah Medler in the end zone stopped the drive.

The Islanders then went to work once again with Benavente and Pierce Pangelinan taking turns rushing the ball. The Gecko defense ended the drive with a sack shared by Ryder Cotelesse and Chawi Keresuma, forcing the Islanders to punt on a third-and-long situation.

On the ensuing punt, Cruz made a heads-up play, recovering a bobbled ball on the JFK six yard line. Rayn Rios rushed in untouched for the final touchdown in the fourth quarter to end the game with a score of 20-0.

Castro had a team-high 70 rush yards for the Geckos, Rayn Rios had 42 rushing yards and a touchdown. Hayes had four attempts for 25 yards and a touchdown.

“This was a really important win for us. We executed on our plays. We’ve been learning from our mistakes, and we are shooting for a better record heading into the playoffs (next month).”

– GW running back Isaiah Hayes

Benavente had a game-high 85 yards on 11 carries for JFK. Taiyo Kanekatsu had 25 receiving yards and an interception for the Islanders.

The GW defense held the Islanders scoreless led by Rayce Rios and Trevor Salas. Both players recorded 6.5 tackles to lead the Geckos. Miguel Cholymay and Engichy also had big games with four tackles apiece.

The Islanders look to bounce back next week Saturday with a home game against the Tiyan Titans. The Geckos will play their next game against the Okkodo Bulldogs at Okkodo on Friday. 

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COMING SOON …

10th Micronesian Games from Marjuro June 15-24

Guam National Bodybuilding Championship June 29

QUICK HITS

Congratulations to the 2024 Guam Rugby Cup Champions: Tao Tao Mana (Men’s Cup Champions) and Southern Rugby Club (Women’s Cup Champions)
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Three graduating ruggers have signed Division I letters to play college rugby stateside.
Saige Calvo from Okkodo heads to Mount St. Mary’s
Mia Topasna from Academy heads to Lindenwood
Tanner Costa from FD heads to Iowa Central

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